Constructing Portraits with Rachel Stern

Join Alumni Resident Rachel Stern in blending sculpture and photography to create sensational, transformative, and allegorical portraiture. Considering our isolation during the pandemic, we will develop techniques and strategies to use domestic materials to create lighting and set design for conceptual portraiture. The course will include lectures on the contemporary and historical context of this type of photography while focusing on construction for the camera and tricks of perspective as our means for transformative image-making. Throughout the four sessions of this course each participant will design, build, and photograph one constructed portrait (or self-portrait!).

Date: This four-time online workshop meets on Wednesday, February 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 7-9 PM ET via Zoom.

Price: $100

Audience: Open to all.

Materials: Participants will be responsible for gathering supplies. Suggested supplies include: cell phone camera, DSLR, or mirrorless digital camera; white foam core sheet (any size); household mirrors, lamps, flashlights, etc.; silver clip lights (can be found at Home Depot); various props, fabric, costumes, makeup (you can use the things you already have or start to collect items if you have an idea of what you want your picture to look like).

Rachel Stern is a photographer whose work considers the intersection of beauty and power. Using quotidian and kitsch materials she creates images which enter into an accessible discourse and, in the spirit of “bread and roses,” demand immediate access to beauty. Her work is a kitsch paradise, a queer-washed history, and an attempt at hope. She received her BFA in Photography and the History of Art and Visual Culture in 2011 from the Rhode Island School of Design, attended Skowhegan in 2014, and graduated from Columbia University in 2016 with an MFA in Visual Arts.

For questions, please contact

In accordance with the New York City mandate, Key to NYC, visitors (age 12+) must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter Pioneer Works at Red Hook Labs. Be prepared to show your proof of vaccination upon arrival to Pioneer Works at Red Hook Labs. Please review our updated Health and Safety Policy here.

This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Classes at Pioneer Works are made possible by Sandeman Port.